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The Dash-In: Keeping Heritage Alive

After 20 years in main1the Medical Laboratory industry, Sheila Underwood decided it was time for a change.  Five years and three months later, she is now running The Dash-In with her daughter.

“My daughter has a degree in culinary arts, so this is her passion. I didn’t know anything about running a restaurant. But after working in a lab, I did know how to reproduce a product with certain quality, and I knew how to balance a checkbook. I’ve learned a lot about business since then, and my daughter and I have a lot of fun with it.” Sheila said.

main2Since taking over ownership of the Dash-In, the restaurant has made hours more consistent and added a Saturday brunch. They have added 23 craft beers, a rotating art show, and bi-monthly live music. With all of these events, the Dash-In has become a popular hangout for old and young alike.

And Sheila did all of it to help her daughter’s passions thrive and keep tradition alive. “Family roots and traditions are passed down through food. My husband is from Macedonia, and his grandmother was the first grandparent I ever had becuse my grandparents passed away before I was born. His grandma passed down several family recipes—and that is love. These days food is a lot more than fuel. “

Speaking of food, the top item on the Dash-In menu is grilled cheese and tomato soup. “We are tfood2rying to reinvent staples with a newer twist on them. Grilled cheese and tomato soup are what a lot of people grew up on, so we are keeping true with that heritage.” People love their four different varieties, which include different cheeses, pesto, corn relish, and guacamole.

In the process of building a heritage into the Dash-In, Sheila came to see employees as more than coworkers. “These kids are a lot like family. I have enjoyed watching them grow and take ownership of how the Dash-In is run. We have several new cooks who are thrilled to participate, and their creativity just flies. It is great for me.”

Sheila’s advice to anyone thinking about running a restaurant is: “Do your homework. This life is not easy, and you have to be prepared to work 24/7. But it can be really rewarding. And if you are planning to work with family, you have to establish rules. Assign specific tasks, and determine who is going to do what.”

Be sure to check out the Dash-In next time you are in Ft. Wayne. And if you are in the area on Wednesday, Dec. 10, attend a benefit for Health for Hannah , a woman with pancreatic cancer. There will be a special price on beer and a silent auction. Proceeds will help Hannah receive special treatment in Houston.

If you can’t make the benefit, you should still plan to check out the Dash-In.

Ashley Mazelin

Ashley Mazelin is graduate of Grace College, where she received a degree in journalism. She writes content for 212 Media Studios, Saltsha, and PayProTec, and enjoys helping small businesses learn, grow, and tell their stories.

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